August 27, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else falls where; plus the good, bad and ugly of Fins' 3rd preseason loss; also, fantasy football poll, 4-Man Outfield, Fins in fantasy Top 300, The List, your Stanton verdict & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Mccain1) It's Monday, August 27. R.I.P., John McCain, the war hero, great statesman and independent thinker who passed away last evening at age 81 from brain cancer. 2) Football's back so it's the perfect time to delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Stanton back in Miami with poll, me back from vacation, Herald endorses alien-abduction survivor, Canes' recycled uniforms, R.I.P. Aretha & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday and updated-Monday feature -- back for the first time since August 5 after three weeks' vacation -- is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Countdown 6 days until UM football season opener: It's No. 8 Miami vs. No. 25 LSU next Sunday in prime time on ABC in a neutral-site season opener in Arlington, Texas and the only football game in the nation that day. Canes' most anticipated season in years has a chance to be special but starts with a major challenge. This ain't no soft opening, folks.

2. DOLPHINS: Tannehill sharp again but Fins fall to 0-3 in preseason: Miami played its starters much of the game Saturday night at The Rock. Ravens did not. Baltimore won, 27-10, dropping Miami to 0-3 in fake games. The good news? Comeback-strong Ryan Tannehill is a sharp 29-for-39 this preseason for 247 yards, one TD and zero picks. 

3. HEAT: Wade, Haslem re-signing with Miami seems nearly certain: Isn't official yet, or announced, but you'd probably be safe to bet on Heat legend Dwyane Wade and franchise lifer Udonis Haslem, both free agents, each signing again with Miami. Welcome back, fellas.

4. MARLINS: Miami ends its Braves jinx: Rebuilding Marlins had lost nine in a row to Atlanta before winning two straight prior to Sunday's series-ending loss up there. Now it's two straight at Fenway against the best team in baseball. Fish are fighting to avoid a 100-loss season. Current pace: 65-97.

5. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: And we're underway!: Week 1 of Division 1A college football began Saturday night with four minor games. There are three opening-week Top 25 matchups. Beside Miami-LSU, they are No. 14  Michigan at 12-Notre Dame next Saturday, and 20-Virginia  Tech at 19-FSU a week from Monday. 

6. FIU: Davis' second season launches in 5 days: FIU Panthers begin second season under Butch Davis this coming Saturday at home vs. Indiana (and three weeks later face the Hurricanes). Can Cats build on success of last year's 8-5 record?

7. FAU: Kiffin 2.0 opens with brutal opening test: Colorful, attention-getting Lane Kiffin's second season with the FAU Owls begins this coming Saturday with a bang (and very likely a loss) at No. 7 Oklahoma. Owls ended last season 11-3 with 10 straight wins, so Kiffin is the King of Boca Raton until further notice.

8. TENNIS: French Open tells Serena how to dress: The French Open instituted a new dress code pretty much specifically designed to prevent Serena Williams from again wearing her skin-tight "cat suit." Some saw it as an affront to women's right. Um, let's save our outrage for causes that are actually important, shall we?

9.YOUTH BASEBALL: LLWS crown decided Sunday: Hawaii defeated South Korea on Sunday ("U-S-A! U-S-A!") for the Little League World Championship title. From what I've seen of some of these "kids," let's check those birth certificates, OK?

10. GOLF: Another week with Tiger not winning: The PGA Tour's Northern Trust in New Jersey wrapped up Sunday and somebody won but it wasn't Tiger Woods.

Missing the HB10 cut: A Los Angeles restaurant jokingly presented Astros pitcher Justin Verlander a $1 million lunch bill after he beat the Dodgers. Um, what'd be the 15 percent tip on that? ..... Jemele Hill and ESPN are parting ways. Meaning she can now criticize Donald Trump without fear of admonishment or suspension ..... Update. Countdown now 2,857 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

BaldolPS3: BALTIMORE 27, DOLPHINS 10: A FEW POSITIVE SIGNS AMID OVERALL BLIGHT: Ryan Tannehill (11-for-16, 115 yards, 110.2 rating) looked sharp -- again -- including a 75-yard TD drive finished by a Danny Amendola catch last night. But there isn't a lot else good to say about a 27-10 loss to Baltimore and an 0-3 fake-game record -- especially because, while Miami treated the game as a dress rehearsal, the Raven sat most of their key players. Overall the Dolphins were dominated in possession time, allowed 223 hyards rushing, had eight penalties, were 2-for-12 on third down conversions, and the backup QB stunk again. Oh, and the offensive line gave up five sacks. We thought last night would be true gauge, with both teams playing starters and trying to win. We wrote so here: Unveiling: The Dolphins Are About To Be Revealed. Instead the Dolphins tried harder to win, making the result all the more jarring. Perfect snapshot of the night: Fins linebacker Kiko Alonso getting lost and running toward the Ravens sideline before sheepishly being turned around, embarrassed, and making the long trek across the field to his own sideline. Kiko and his team. Befuddled. And without much time left to discover answers. 

FANTASY FOOTBALL POLL: WHO'S YOUR NO. 1 OVERALL PICK?: My two fantasy league drafts are almost here. Yours probably are, too. IN the poll below are the top 10 projected players, via ESPN.com, based on a PPR league, with the list alphabetical, not by ranking. Vote who among these top 10 would be your No. 1 pick. Click here for ESPN's complete top 300. To save you time, Dolphins making the list are: RB Kenyan Drake (42nd), WR DeVante Parker (94th), WR Kenny Stills (102nd), WR Danny Amendola (112th), RB Frank Gore (206th), QB Ryan Tannehill (220th), WR Albert Wilson (225th), TE Mike Gesicki (247th) and RB Kalen Ballage (277th). I thik Amendola would be my first pick among Dolphins receivers. And I like Tannehill as a backup. Anyway, who's No. 1 overall? Vote now!

POLL RESULT: WE'D HAVE CHEERED A HOMER BY YANKS' STANTON: We asked, "Should Miami fans have cheered if the Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton hit his 300th career home run here this week at Marlins Park?" And the vote was 

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): YELICH, STANTON BATTLINGThroughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current (though injured) Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the most highly regarded prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog when we remember to. The latest:

Player, Team                                  OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers           .906  116 463 89 143   67  27-4-23     .309

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees       .879  129  505 84 141   82  27-1-32    .279

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .728  123 484  52 133   69  13-2-16     .275

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins               .570   84  290  22  54   30   6-4-10     .186

THE LIST: UNBEATEN AND WINLESS DOLPHINS PRESEASONS: With Miami now 0-3 in the preseason, we were curious how rare that unbeaten and winless preseasons (including no ties) have been in the Dolphins' 52 seasons -- and how that correlated to that year's regular season record. Well, there have been a total of only eight, and there is a correlation to season success:

UNBEATEN (5x)

Year (Record)        Coach/QB                Regular season

1976 (6-0)             Shula/Griese            6-8, no playoffs  

1979 (4-0)             Shula/Griese            10-6, won division, 0-1 playoffs

1981 (4-0)             Shula/Woodley         11-4-1, won division, 0-1 playoffs 

1998 (4-0)             Johnson/Marino       10-6, 2nd in division, 1-1 playoffs

2009 (4-0)             Sparano/Henne        7-9, no playoffs

WINLESSS (3x)

Year (Record)        Coach/QB                Regular season

1966 (0-4)             Wilson/Wilson Jr.     3-11, no playoffs

1989 (0-4)             Shula/Marino           8-8, no playoffs

2012 (0-4)             Philbin/Tannehill     7-9, no playoffs

Note: QB refers to most regular season games started that year. 

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

July 16, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who won week's pitched battle for No. 1 (surprise!) and what else lands where; plus Viva La France!, MLS Miami vs. Melreese (my column, your poll verdict), 4-Man Outfield (final first half) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 16. Thanks again to Ari Odzer and NBC6 for featuring us in this David Beckham/soccer report. Enjoyed it. 2) Delight the Dolfans in your life with the surprise of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out here on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): MLS Miami soccer vs. Melreese golf drama and poll, Heat's interest in Carmelo Anthony, World Cup semifinals, Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

BeckhamDOS COLUMNAS EN BECKHAM/MLS MIAMI: We had two columns last week on the Beckham/Mas group's continuing bid to build a stadium in Miami for their Major League Soccer expansion team. The most recent: Beckham Group's New Theme Song: It Don't Come Easy, following Thursday night's postponement of a vote whether to allow the stadium referendum on the November ballot. (David Beckham and Jorge Mas are pictured at that meeting of the Miami City Commission). And prior: Let The Voters Decide, exhorting commissioners to approve the referendum. (We also had a blogpoll on this matter. Results are below).

Other recent columnsWhy 'Melo To Miami Would Be Strange MarriageLeBron-to-Lakers A Decision Worth ApplaudingLeBron's 1 Choice to Meet His Legacy Head-OnMLS Miami Says All Are Welcome7 Reasons the Dolphins Could Be OK. And Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. SOCCER: Major Wednesday vote to steer MLS Miami future: David Beckham and Jorge Mas will have one last shot Wednesday to convince the Miami City Commission to place the Miami Freedom Park/soccer stadium item on the November ballot. Even if voters then approved it for the Melreese golf sight, the city would have to green-light the project. Beckham's stardom and Mas' billions vs. a bunch of golf moms hardly seems fair, but Beckham/Mas aren't out of it yet.

2. WORLD CUP: Viva La France! Viva La France!: France defeated Croatia 4-2 today in Russia for the 2018 World Cup championship, after Belgium beat England 2-nil Saturday in the Game Nobody Wants, a.k.a the third-place match. As a totally impartial journalist, I was wearing a jaunty beret and shouting "Viva la France!" today vs. the dirty, shoving Croatians who thugged their way past the Brits in the semifinals thanks to a cowardly referee afraid of yellow cards. 

3. MLB: Home Run Derby, All-Star Game on deck: All-Star Week festivities rolled out Sunday at Nationals Park in D.C. with the Futures Game and all-star softball. Tonight comes the Home Run Derby, albeit a low-watt version compared to last year's sizzler at Marlins Park. (When the star sluggers pass -- talking to you, Aaron Judge -- baseball is stuck with what the NBA's Slam-Dunk Contest has become). Then Tuesday is the 89th All-Star Game, featuring Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto and a bunch of other guys.

4. HEAT: Miami woos Carmelo Anthony: Miami reportedly is pursuing likely soon-to-be-free agent Carmelo Anthony, which sounds exciting until you remind yourself he's a 34-year-old defensive liability with fitness issues coming off the worst shooting season of his career. The good news? Most seem to think he'll sign with Houston. In other news, the Heat's youthful Summer League team finished 4-4 with Saturday's loss to Boston.

5. TENNIS: Joko's wild on Championship Weekend at Wimbledon:  In Sunday's men's final Novak Djokovic dispatched little-known Kevin Anderson, who may have been too tired to lift a racket after he beat American John Isner in a grueling 26-24 fifth set semifinal. It was Djokovic's fourth Wimbledon crown and first major title in just over two years. Angelique Kerber beat Serena Williams in straight sets in Saturday's women's finale. So, to summarize, within a few days, Serena was denied a record-tying 24th career major and missed her baby's first steps.

6. DOLPHINS: Finally! Training camp is upon us!: Fins rookies report this Wednesday and veterans report a week later, with the first full-squad practice scheduled for July 26. Then we begin to see on the field who's right: A confident team convinced it is playoff-bound. Or a skeptical national media that thinks a 6-10 team has had a tough offseason and is headed for more woe. Meantime the team may move its training camp to the main stadium site beginning in 2020.

7. MARLINS: Fish slide into break with strong first-half finish: Offering up a positive spin as the Fire-Sale Fish closed the first half of the schedule Sunday here vs. the Phillies with a rally-win on an 8-run fifth inning: After starting 20-39 Miami went 21-18, five teams have worse records at the break, and the Marlins are now on pace to lose only (!) 94 games. The slow ascent from abysmal to mediocre has seldom felt better!

8. SOCCER: Ronaldo changing uniforms: Portugese star Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the greatest active player on Earth (sorry, Messi), is taking his club-team talents from Real Madrid to Juventus on a crazy $117 million transfer fee. Juventus will pay Ronaldo $140 million over four seasons. (Um, they do realize h's 33 ... right?)

9. GOLF: Brkitish Open begins this week: Golf's next major begins this Thursday at Carnoustie. This is once again where we chew over whether Tiger Woods is finally "back" and ready to at last win his first major in 10 years, raising the volume when he shoots a solid early round, only to concede by the weekend it ain't-a gonna happen.

10. BIG3 BASKETBALL: BIG3 coming to Miami this week: Eager to see a  bunch of guys who retired from the NBA because they got too old or too slow but then decided to squeeze out that last ounce of octane in the tank? We got you covered! BIG3 basketball comes to the downtown Heat arena with four games this coming Friday night. This is where the joke goes about the Gatorade pail being filled with Geritol.

Missing the HB10 cut: John Cynn, 33, of Indianapolis, beat a field of 7,874 dreamers to win the $8.8 million grand prize in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys, but do put a deck of cards in the crib ..... Manny Pacquiao continued to not go away by knocking out WBA welterweight champ Lucas Matthysse last night ..... It's Miami Swim Week, where a bunch of models wearing almost nothing parade around. Wait, it isn't that every week in Miami? ..... The 26th ESPY Awards are this Wednesday night in L.A. Because there just are not nearly enough awards shows! ..... The Tour de France was a lot more interesting when every stage featured PED suspensions and spent needles all over the course ..... Update. Countdown now 2,899 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup ..... Thank goodness all 13 were safely rescued from that flooded Thai cave. Currently trapped even deeper in a flooded cave but with no hope of rescue: Papa John's stock.

POLL RESULT: MOST FAVOR MELREESE SITE FOR MLS SOCCER: We asked, "What best reflects your thought on the use of city-owned land near Miami International Airport?" Three choices were offered. Your verdict: 50.17 percent voted "Build Miami Freedom Park and the new MLS soccer stadium there"; 27.27% voted "Keep Melreese golf course there as it has been since 1961': and 22.56% voted "Let Miami voters decide with a ballot referendum in November."

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): STANTON ON TOP AT THE TURNThroughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog. The latest:

Player, Team                                  OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees       .864   94  371  58 103   55  18-1-23     .278

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers           .823   82  318  60  93   43  16-2-11     .292

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .693   90 351  38  94   49   9-1-10      .268

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins               .570   84  290  22  54   30   6-4-10     .186

OUR APSE-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Other select more recent columnsCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were OursEnd the Illogical Shame and Get Howard in the HallJeter Must Restore Faith Before He Can WinTannehill's Defining SeasonHeading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris. (For our column page, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote).

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

July 09, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No.1 this week and what else falls where; plus your World Cup rooting-interest verdict, 4-Man Outfield & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 9. Surprise the Dolfans in your life. Give them our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): World Cup final-8 poll, LeBron to Lakers poll, the president and the press & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

I'm back!: Missed new columns from me lately? It's because I was on vacation last week. I'll be back with a new column later today. Meantime, our most recent columns: LeBron-to-Lakers A Decision Worth Applauding. Our four other columns from the past week: LeBron's 1 Choice to Meet His Legacy Head-OnMLS Miami Says All Are Welcome7 Reasons the Dolphins Could Be OK. And Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town).

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. WORLD CUP: Unorthodox final four set to go!: It'll be neighbors France vs. Belgium on Tuesday and then England vs. Croatia on Wednesday in World Cup semifinal matches from Russia. No Brazil or anybody else from South America left. No world No. 1 Germany. Italy didn't even qualify. And no surviving team has won it all in at least 20 years. No matter the results from here, the 2018 World Cup will have been nothing if not ... refreshingly different. 

2. TENNIS: Top-seed Halep out as Wimbledon reaches midpoint: Unseeded Su-Wei Hsieh stunned No. 1-seed Simona Halelp as the forthnight at Wimbledon bounced to halftime with upsets galore on the women's side. Meantime her nanny revealed that new mom Serena Williams, still in play, missed her baby's first steps while practicing in London. Ouch. Onus now on Serena to win her first post-pregnancy major to make up for the missed milestone.

3. MARLINS: Realmuto an all-star; Fish ready to ride homestand to break: After closing victoriously at Washington Sunday the Marlins have a six-game homestand starting tonight to carry them into the midseason break for the July 17 All-Star Game. Catcher J.T. Realmuto will be the Marlins' lone representative in the ASG, selected as a reserve Sunday evening.

4. DOLPHINS: Low grade for Fins as camp nears: Oy! With Dolphins training camp poised to start in six days with rookies reporting, Miami's offseason is graded a C-minus in an ESPN ranking of how all 32 NFL teams have done. Only two teams (Carolina and Detroit) are graded lower.

5. MLB: All-Stars announced on Sunday: The selection show for the July 17 All-Star Game was last evening on ESPN. No Marlins were voted in, but catcher J.T. Reamuto made it as a reserve. Now comes a few days of baseball writers chewing over their list of top "snubs." (Bor-ring!)

6. NBA: Is LeBron-as-Laker any closer to crown?: LeBron James going to L.A. seemed a huge deal, but then champ Golden State also got better in summer free agency, and now one wonders if LeBron is any closer to what he wants now than he was in Cleveland. The answer may lie in the biggest offseason prize left: Kawhi Leonard. Will the Spurs trade him? And to whom?

7. HEAT: Miami continues in Summer League play: Quiet on the free agency front, the Heat are now 0-2 in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas after going 2-1 in Sacramento. Miami next faces Utah on Tuesday. Derrick Jones Jr. has been tearin' it up. Um, can we even pretend we really care?

8. NASCAR: Jones survived wreck-o-rama: Erik Jones didn't so much win as survive a wreck-filled race at Daytona for his first NASCAR title. Meantime Brad Keselowski vowed to wreck blockers moving forward. By the time the race finished it felt like there'd been more yellow flags than cars left on the track. 

9. UFC: Cormier wins heavyweight title: Daniel Cormier defeated Stipe Miocic to win the heavyweight championship at UFC 226. The obvious question arising from the bout? Who on Earth names their baby boy "Stipe"?

10. THAI RESCUE: Cave rescues begin: The first four boys have been removed from that flooded cave in Thailand. A soccer team and their coach have been trapped. I just bet big that they'll be honored on the ESPY Awards. There's a wager for everything, isn't there!

Missing the HB10 cut: Scandal rocks the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest! Apparently some of the totals were suspect. No wonder. You couldn't pay me enough to judge that mess. I get nauseous just watching ..... The Big3 basketball league is back. Some things you can't stop no matter how hard you try ..... The Tour de France is underway. Gentlemen, start your PEDs? ..... The British Open is in 11 days. You know it's a slow time on the sports calendar when we're counting down to the British Open ..... Update. Countdown now 2,906 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

EnglandPOLL RESULT: YOUR WORLD CUP ROOTING INTEREST? ENGLAND ALL THE WAY!: With the World Cup down to its final eight teams (before the paring to four), we asked, "Which of the final eight teams do you hope wins it all?" Your results, among the four surviving teams: England with 32.89 percent, Belgium 14.91%, France 9.18% and Croatia 8.60%. Among the now-eliminated teams it was Brazil 11.47%, Uruguay 10.90%, Russia 6.12% and Sweden 5.93%. Considering it was a combined 65.58% for the surviving teams and 34.42% for the ousted ... you got the final four you wanted.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): WILL BRINSON EVER GET TO .200?Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog. The latest:

Player, Team                                  OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees       .852   86  337  52  90   51  17-1-21     .267

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers           .821   74  281  55  80   36  12-2-11     .285

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .714   85 331  36  91   47   9-1-10      .275

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins               .570   84  290  22  54   30   6-4-10     .186

OUR APSE-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Other select more recent columnsCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were OursEnd the Illogical Shame and Get Howard in the HallJeter Must Restore Faith Before He Can WinTannehill's Defining SeasonHeading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris. (For our column page, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote).

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

July 02, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10: LeBron-to-Lakers blasts to No. 1 but see what else falls where; also, 4-Man Outfield & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's MONDAY, JULY 2. Happy new month, everybody! 2) Want to surprise the Dolfans in your life? Check out our 'Fins At 50' book on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): On newspaper murders in Annapolis, Beckham group's smart strategy for MLS Miami, World Cup odds entering knockout stage & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

LeblakersLATEST COLUMN: LEBRON WAS RIGHT, BEYOND MONEY, TO PICK LAKERS: Well, that didn't take long. LeBron James decided to take his talents to Hollywood (or thereabouts) on the first day of free agency Sunday, agreeing to a four-year, $154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. Now if LeBron can coax a Spurs trade of Kawhi Leonard to L.A., he'll be set. In my recent column I write how LeBron-to-Lakers was the right  move for him, for several reasons. To read that column, click LeBron's 1 Choice to Meet His Legacy Head-On. (Our three other columns from the past week: MLS Miami Says All Are Welcome7 Reasons the Dolphins Could Be OK. And Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town).

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton

1. NBA: LeBron acts fast in free agency, now a Laker: LeBron James opted out of his $35.6 million deal in Cleveland to hit the open market as free agency began and quickly signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. Evidently Paul George recommitting to Oklahoma City instead of going to L.A. did not hurt the Lakers' chances to bag LeBron. Is a Kawhi Leonard trade to the LAL up next?

2. WORLD CUP: Messi, Ronaldo, Spain all out early in knockout stage: Argentina and Portugal were the first teams ousted as the World Cup's round of 16 knockout stage began over the weekend, meaning the two superstars who stand apart, Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo, both were eliminated. Brazil is the betting favorite -- especially now that the co-favorite, Spain, was eliminated Sunday on penalty kicks in a shocking upset by host Russia. Did Valdimir Putin work his magic to influence another outcome? 

3. ANNAPOLIS: Sports reacts as 5 killed at newspaper: The Orioles had a video tribute and moment of silence for the five Capital Gazette employees killed by a reader with vendetta this week, the victims including longtime sports writer John McNamara. Patriots coach  Bill Belichick, who grew up in Annapolis, offered condolences for what he called "my hometown newspaper." Such a tragedy. Journalists deserve respect, not derision from the White House.

4. HEAT: Miami busy in Summer Leagues, at least: Miami is not expected be major player in free agency, but will be busy, anyway, sort of, participating in both NBA summer leagues this month. Heat debut today/Monday vs. Golden State in the summer league being held in Sacramento. It's kiddieball, the Heat roster made up of Bam Adebayo and a bunch of young guys you've likely barely heard of.

5. MARLINS: Top prospect Alcantara makes debut: Top pitching prospect Sandy Alcantara made a winning MLB debut in midst of this long, continuing homestand. More good news: the Fire-Sale Fish are a respectable 14-12 since June 5, are over .400 (well, right at .400) and had climbed over the Mets and out of the NL East cellar before Sunday's loss. Still a lousy season happening, but little rays of light shining through the gloom.

6. SOCCER: MLS Miami progresses on name, stadium: The David Beckham group narrowed its choices to Inter Miami or Atletico Miami as the name for the Miami expansion team that will begin play in Major League Soccer in 2020. The group also has zeroed in on the Melreese Golf Course area as the site for its new stadium. Golden shovels in ground, please. Tick tock!

7. TENNIS: Wimbledon underway in London: Roger Federer and Simona Halep are the top seeds as WImbledon is underway at the All-England Tennis Club. Don't sleep on Serena Williams, who is seeded a post-maternity 25th and pulled out of the French Open injured but may be poised for a deep run in London. Ba-by!

8. DOLPHINS: Fins announce what practices fans may attend: Getting close, Dolfans. Rookies report for training camp July 18 and veterans July 25, with 14 open practices scheduled between July 26 and Aug. 14. Highlight before preseasons games start: A scrimmage at Hard Rock Stadium Aug. 4.

9. HORSE RACING: Summit Of Speed runs at Gulfstream: Saturday's Summit Of Speed at Gulfstream saw X Y Jet and Stormy Embrace win the co-feature races at the Hallandale Beach track, the latter's win at 15-1 odds earning an automatic spot in the Breeders' Cup.

10. PANTHERS: Cats wrap up developmental camp: Florida completed its week-long developmental camp for recent draftees and other young prospects. Next stop: Preseason games are less than three months away building to the Oct. 6 opener for Panthers' 25th season. 

Missing the HB10 cut: ESPN The Magazine came out with its 10th annual 'Body' issue, in 16 various athletes posed artfully nude. Modesty is a virtue? Um, no, apparently not. Hey, if I'm seeing Greg Norman wearing nuthin' but a cowboy hat it should be in a nightmare, not on a newsstand ..... Update. Countdown now 2,913 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): CAN BRINSON CLIMB TO .190?Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog. The latest:

Player, Team                                  OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees       .846   80  312  48  83   46  16-1-19     .266

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers           .835   68  263  52  76   34  11-2-11     .289

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals           .746   78 302  32  86   44   8-1-10      .285

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins               .574   82  280  21  52   30   6-4-10     .186

OUR APSE-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Other select more recent columnsCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were OursEnd the Illogical Shame and Get Howard in the HallJeter Must Restore Faith Before He Can WinTannehill's Defining SeasonHeading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris. (For our column page, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote).

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

June 11, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who wins tightly contested fight for No. 1 (surprise!) and what else falls where; plus my Sunday column on Marlins' 25th Anniversary and Jeter's obligation to heal, The List (worst Marlins seasons) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Calilove1) It's MONDAY, JUNE 11. Not yet heard it? Click Cote Does California Love to hear me rapping my favorite hip-hop song, from last week's LeBatard Show. 2) Delight the Dolfans in your life with the perfect anytime-gift: our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami athletes on Forbes' 100 Wealthiest list, new columns on Dolphins and Trump/NFL, R.I.P. Anthony Bourdain & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

25logoLatest Sunday column: Marlins' Anniversary Weekend underlines Jeter's obligation: A weekend to celebrate the Marlins' past also was a time for fans to wonder when the future -- another team worth celebrating -- will finally arrive. That is Derek Jeter's job. And that is my latest Sunday column. To read, click Jeter Must Restore Faith Before He Can Win.

Other most recent columns: In Search of the Dolphins' Elusive Grand PlanUninvited Eagles Latest Pawns In Trump's SubterfugeHandicapping the LeBron Summer Sweepstakes. And: When Sports Stopped Being All Fun & Games / The King, Indeed: LeBron Tops Michael / NFL Hiding Problem And Hoping It Goes Away / Tannehill's Defining Season / Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris / Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. MARLINS: Draft, anniversary make it big week for Fish: The annual three-day MLB draft welcomed 41 new Marlins (25 of them pitchers), led by top pick Connor Scott, 18, an outfielder from Tampa. Fish followed with club's 25th Anniversary Weekend events in series vs. Padres -- the celebration of the past leading one to wonder when a future worth cheering might finally arrive.

2. NBA: Warriors repeat champs, LeBron will talk to Heat: Golden State steamrolled Cleveland 4-0 in first NBA Finals sweep since 2007, likely marking LeBron James' final game with Cavaliers. LeBron will be ring-chase in his free-agent decision this summer, and Stephen A. Smith says the seven teams on his maybe-list  are Cavs, Warriors, 76ers, Celtics, Rockets, Lakers ... and Heat. Yes, Miami, but don't make too much of that. (Or get your hopes up).

3. SOCCER: Countdown 3 days 'til World Cup: Host Russia faces Saudi Arabia in the only match on Thursday as the 2018 men's World Cup gets underway. No U.S. and no Italy among the 32 qualifiers; still, most of the world will be riveted. It'll be refreshing to see people paying attention to Russia for something other than election-meddling.

4. DOLPHINS: This week wraps pre-training camp work: A final wave of offseason OTA practices this Monday through Thursday will be the Dolphins' last on-field work prior to the start of full preseason training camp in late July. That's when it starts to get real for Adam Gase and Ryan Tannehill. When games are coming at you like a freight train.

5. TENNIS: Nadal, Halep win French Open: Championship Weekend in Paris saw No. 1-ranked Simona Halep of Romania drop the first set Saturday but still beat Broward County native and resident Sloane Stephens for Halep's first career major win. Today, Rafael Nadal won his 11th French crown in straight sets, denying Dominic Thiem what would have been a seismic upset. 

6. HORSES: Justify win Belmont, Triple Crown: Justify made an impressive, easy glide to the Belmont Stakes on Saturday after earlier winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness -- the 13th Triple Crown winner in thoroughbred racing history. There'd been a 37-year drought until American Paraoah in 2015. Now it's practically a trend.

7. NHL: Washington wins first Stanley Cup: Defeating the Cinderella expansion Vegas Golden Knights 4-1, the Washington Capitals won their first Stanley Cup in the club's 43-year history. It also marked the first career crown for superstar Alex Ovechkin. Wild guess: Trump comes through with the invite, and Caps say "Oh yeah, eh!"

8. GOLF: Tiger in this week's U.S. Open: This week's 118th U.S. Open starts Thursday at Shinnecock. Tiger Woods is in it, his yacht docked the near course just to remind you he's still Tiger. This marks the 10th anniversary since Woods' last major win, the 2008 Open. Happy anniversary, anyone?

9. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Hall of Fame nominees tab 3 Canes: College Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2019 nominees include three old Hurricanes in Ray Lewis, Dan Morgan and coach Dennis Erickson. There should be a fourth, Howard Schnellenberger, but as always Snells is a victim of Hall's dumb, intractable rule requiring a minimum .600 career win percentage.

10. TERRELL OWENS: T.O. nixes Canton ceremony: Figured, right? That the first time an NFL player ever said he'd not participate in his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction, it might a controversial career-long maverick like diva-receiver Terrell Owens. Best guess: He'll change his mind. Unless Canton goes all Trump and uninvites him first.

Missing the HB10 cut: Welcome back, Tommy Hutton! ..... Disgraced 76ers executive Bryan Colangelo resigns in shame. And Twitter claims another victim! ..... NFL suspends Julian Edelman four games for PEDs, further enhancing Patriots' reputation as Cheatriots. (Julian shoulda stuck to Tom Brady's diet) ..... Donald Trump uninvites the Eagles to White House and now says he won't invite the Warriors. Somebody please remind Donald it isn't his house. It's ours ..... Former Canes tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. arrested for a home burglary in California. Understandable, after a meager $40 million in NFL earnings ..... R.I.P., Anthony Bourdain. There is nothing more insidious than when demons are invisible.

THE LIST: WORST MARLINS SEASONS: The five worst seasons in club history based on winning percentage:

Year    Record                Manager

1998    .333 (54-108)      Jim Leyland

2018    .354 (23-42)        Don Matttingly

2013    .383 (62-100)      Mike Redmond

1993    .395 (64-98)        Rene Lachemann

1999    .395 (64-98)        John Boles

Note: Marlins' current record projects to final mark of 57-105.

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye. (For all of our most recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote).

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

June 04, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else falls where; plus Dolphins Beef-O-Meter (Parker vs. Chambers), latest Sunday column (moral reckoning in sports), your verdict on LeBron vs. Michael, 4-Man Outfield & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's MONDAY, JUNE 4. Delight the Dolfans in your life with the perfect anytime-gift: our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan poll, your verdict on NBA Finals predictions, Canes in NBA Draft, The List (NBA title droughts) & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

KaepLatest Sunday column: Sports were simple, once. No more: Kneeling protests during the national anthem continue a polarizing NFL controversy. A soccer star refuses to join the U.S. Women's National Team rather than wear an LGBT Pride Month patch. An NBA coach in the heart of Texas is outspokenly anti-Trump. Dick's Sporting Goods stops selling assault rifles. Publix donates to a candidate who is pro-NRA. More and more, who we cheer for in sports, where we shop -- everything -- now requires a moral reckoning. This is my latest column. To read, click When Sports Stopped Being All Fun & Games.

Other most recent columns: The King, Indeed: LeBron Tops Michael / Hell Week For Goodell / NFL Hiding Problem And Hoping It Goes Away / Tannehill's Defining Season / A Solution To Jeter's Impatience / Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim Morris / Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan / Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NBA: LeBron, Cavs in 2-0 Finals hole: Game 2 last night in Golden State offered no remedy for Cleveland in a 122-103 Cavs loss that made it a 2-0 NBA Finals, after Warriors took opener 124-114 in overtime despite LeBron James' 51 points. Next two games are in Cleveland Wednesday and Friday, with LeBron realistically needing to win both to keep hope alive. Quick thought: Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are pretty good! 

2. DOLPHINS: Mandatory minicamp on deck for Fins: Dolphins continue offseason work with a mandatory minicamp this Tuesday through Thursday. Meantime the team signed four draft picks including No. 1 guy Minkah Fitzpatrick and bestowed upon cornerback Bobby McCain a four-year, $27 million extension including $13 million guaranteed. Not bad for a nickelback who comes off the bench. Call the position millionback now.

3. MARLINS: Reeling Fish planning 25th Anniversary Weekend: The reeling Fire-Sale Fish are 20-39 after six straight losses and nine L's in past 10 games as they continue on a 10-game road trip. Team returns next Saturday and Sunday for a 25th Anniversary Weekend. That presumes there are any Marlins fan out there, even one, in a celebratory mood.

4. NHL: Washington takes 2-1 Finals lead: Saturday night's 3-1 Capitals win put Washington up 2-1 over Vegas as the Stanley Cup Finals stays in D.C. for Game 4 on Monday. The expansion Golden Knights are now scrambling. One more loss and Cinderella is on life support.

5. TENNIS: French Open loses Serena to injury: While Rafael Nadal rolls on to what seems a sure spot in the men's final, the women's side on Monday saw Serena Williams withdraw with an arm injury ahead of her quarterfinal match with rival Maria Sharapova. Lucky break for Maria. Williams has dominated the rivalry, winning of 19 of 21 matches. But this was the first time Serena would have faced Sharapova as a New Mommy.

6. HORSES: Justify goes for Triple Crown in 5 days: The Belmont Stakes is next Saturday, with Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Justify a prohibitive 4-5 favorite to win the Triple Crown. After not having had a Triple Crown champ since 1978, Justify would be the sport's second in four years, after American Pharoah in 2015. Justify has dominated in rain on mud. Clear skies may be the field's  best hope.

7. SOCCER: Countdown 10 days 'til World Cup: The month-long men's World Cup begins June 14 in Russia, with Germany (7-2 odds) and Brazil (4-1) the favorites, followed by France and Spain (both 6-1) and Argentina (13-2). Italy shockingly did not qualify. Neither did the U.S., although I'll be chanting "Let's Gooooo States!" anyway, in protest.

8. MLB: Annual draft on deck: The Miami Marlins select 13th overall in the annual MLB Draft this Monday through Wednesday. The NBA draft has two rounds. The NFL draft has seven. Baseball has 40! Um, if you're drafted in, like, the 38th round ... is that something you brag about or reluctantly admit?

9. BRYAN COLANGELO: 76ers exec mired in Twitter scandal: Answer: The 76ers' president of basketball operations reportedly kept several secret Twitter accounts he used to anonymously defend himself, criticize his own players and take shots at other NBA executives. Question: What's the best simplest way to ruin your reputation and possibly get fired in 140 characters or less?

10. SPELLING: A feeling of koinonia for Karthik: Karthik Nemmani, 14, of McKinney, Tex., won the 91st annual Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling koinonia, which means "an intimate spiritual communion." The son of an immigrant from India, Karthik's win continues a spelling bee dominance by children of Indian descent over the past two decades. "I wonder why that is," said the kid who is not a son of immigrants as he played Grand Theft Auto for the 6,000th time.

Missing the HB10 cut: MLB All-Star voting has begun. Why!? ..... The annual Fins Weekend of golf and fishing was Saturday, another chance to hear klng-retired former Dolphins gripe about lack of benefits ..... Johnny Manziel made his CFL preseason debut. Not sure if that says more about the state of Canadian football, or of Manziel ..... It's the Memorial this week as Tiger Woods continues to not win golf tournaments.

DpDOLPHINS BEEF-O-METER: DEVANTE PARKER VS. CHRIS CHAMBERS: So foremr Dolphins receiver Chris Chambers goes on Ethan Skolnick and Chris Wittyngham's Five Reasons podcast and ranks DeVante Parker (pictured) the third best current Fins receiver, after Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson. The oft-injured Parker was lucky. Chambers could have had him fourth, after Danny Amendola, too. Anyway, Parker gets angry, Tweets that nobody cares what Chambers thinks.  OK. For what it's worth, a per-game comparison of Chambers' 100-game Dolphins career and Parker's 43-game Miami career thus far:

Player                        Receptions   Yards      TDS per game

Chris Chambers             4.05           56.88     0.43

DeVante Parker             3.23           44.37     0.19

Note: Chambers averaged 14.0 yards per catch to Parker's 13.7. Chambers made one Pro Bowl to Parker's zero.

POLL RESULTS: SURPRISE! IT'S LEBRON OVER MICHAEL: Rarely am I surprised by the result of one of our blogpolls, but this surprised me. I asked, "What best reflects your opinion on who should be considered the greatest NBA player of all time?" And it was 47.74 percent for LeBron James vs. 30.04% for Michael Jordan. Another 16.46% voted "Still Michael, but LeBron narrowing gap," while 5.76% voted "Neither; someone else."

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD' (UPDATED): BRINSON TOPS .160!: Throughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog. The latest:

Player, Team                                  OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .846   48  188   36  56   26   8-2-7      .298

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .800   54 210  35  52   31  10-1-12      .248

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .697   53 206  22  56   28   6-0-5      .272

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .492   57  198  12  32   19    3-0-7     .162

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

For all of our more recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

May 28, 2018

Memorial Day: With reverent thanks, our annual tribute video; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See who's No. 1 and what else lands where; also, Roger Goodell's Hell Week (newest column), 4-Man Outfield (updated) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It's MONDAY, MAY 28. It is Memorial Day. To all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and their loves ones: Thank you! 2) Flabbergast and thrill the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Case for Canes baseball to make NCAAs, NFL's new anthem policy aims to hide truth, your verdict on Tannehill & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Latest Sunday column: Roger Goodell's Hell Week: Why NFL's new national-anthem policy is blowing up in commissioner's face is topic of my latest column. To read: Hell Week For Goodell. Other recent columns: NFL Hiding Problem And Hoping It Goes Away / Tannehill's Defining Season / A Solution To Jeter's Impatience / Heading For Home: An Ode to Jim MorrisNBA Rolling A Pair of 7s / Confessions of a Lifelong Dolfan / Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money.

Memorial dayMEMORIAL DAY: OUR ANNUAL TRIBUTE VIDEO: On Memorial Day, today, we honor the fallen heroes who deserve our remembrance and thanks every day. They are the men and women who gave their lives while serving in the U.S. military. This video is a song, "50,000 Names," by the country legend George Jones, about Vietnam losses and that war's memorial wall. But the sentiment applies to all military action over the years right through to the post-9/11 conflicts and the war on terrorism. This video is sentimental, unabashedly so. If you lost a loved one in action, this is for you:

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. NBA: LeBron comes through again, reaches Finals again: It was Cleveland and LeBron James winning in Boston  last night and Golden State at Houston tonight in the NBA's first pair of conference-finals Game 7s since 1979. Is anyone out there -- anybody -- still doubting LeBron!? BY the way, when the Celtics led 2-0 and the West was tied 1-1, I wrote in this column that the two Game 7s would happen. Most of you laughed. Well ... you're welcome

2. NFL: New anthem-protest policy is polarizing (of course): Commissioner Roger Goodell revealed a new national anthem protest policy that mandates all players on the field stand during the anthem or be subject to fines, with players who don't wish to stand confined to staying in their lockerooms, hidden from sight. President Trump likes the league's new policy. Fans of freedom of expression ... not so much.

3. DOLPHINS: Tannehill back as Fins begin offseason work: The return to the field of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, after a season lost to injury, took center stage as the Fins completed their first three offseason OTA practices, with the next ones coming up this Tuesday though Thursday. Next big deal: A mandatory June 5-7 minicamp. "Can Tannehill stay healthy?" is a reasonable question. So is this: "Can he raise his game and be better than ever?"

4. UM BASEBALL: Denied! Canes, Morris don't get Monday miracle on NCAAs: Going 1-1 in the ACC Tournament after a 27-25 regular season wasn't enough to earn the Canes an NCAA Tournament bid when the field of 64 was announced earler today. It would have taken an answered prayer for coach Jim Morris to make the national playoffs for one last shot at a College World Series title in his final season. Alas, he's done with no last shot at Omaha.  

5. MARLINS: Return of Hanley Ramirez? Um, don't count on it: Fire-Sale Fish are 19-33 after being swept at home by Washington, and now are out on a 10-game road trip. There's Hanley Ramirez chatter since the Red Sox announced they're parting ways, but don't expect his return. Hanley is 34, batting .254 and in a role (1B/DH) the Marlins can't use. Another big factor why he won't be signed: Would cost money.

6. NHL: Vegas-Washington Finals begins Monday: Normally Washington, yet to win a Stanley Cup in 43 franchise years, would get to be Lovable Underdog in this unorthodox Stanley Cup Finals that begins tonight out west. But not here. Not when the expansion Vegas Golden Knights aim to be the first first-year franchise ever to win a championship in any of America's Big Four team sports. Fans of hockey's Original Six teams are looking at this matchup and weeping softly. 

7. TENNIS: Serena back on major stage as French Open begins: Year's second tennis major began Sunday at Roland-Garros in Paris with defending champ Rafael Nadal, King of Clay, the clear men's favorite again. Simona Halep narrowly tops a far more unpredictable women's field that also will see Serena Williams play in her first major since giving birth. Serena is unseeded because the WTA, in effect, penalizes women for being out on maternity leave. (Aside to WTA: It's the 21st Century now. Join us, won't you!)

8. SOCCER: Real Madrid wins Champions League (again): Real Madrid bounced Liverpool 3-1 on Saturday to win the UEFA Champions League title for the third straight year, led by Gareth Bale's two goals including a gorgeous bicycle kick. We'll all forget it in 18 days when the World Cup starts. But, for now, Real is the real deal. Again.

9. AUTO RACING: Power wins INdy 500 in Danica's last ride: The fabulously named Will Power won the 102nd Indianapolis 500 on Sunday in the final career ride for Danica Patrick, which ended in an early crash. The big day for motorsports also included the Coca-Cola 600, but, sorry NASCAR, this was the one day of the year when IndyCar racing glommed the spotlight.

10. MEMORIAL DAY: Thanks to those who made ultimate sacrifice: Not to nitpick, but please don't cheerily say "Happy Memorial Day!" as if you have no idea what this holiday of remembrance is about. It also is not the occasion to thank a veteran for his or her service. This is to honor our fallen war dead. So: Have a somber, reflective Memorial Day!   

Missing the HB10 cut: There is speculation David Beckham's new Miami MLS team will be nicknamed Freedom. Right now, I'd preferred it be called, "Get a damned stadium built first!" ..... The Scripps National Spelling Bee finals are this coming Thursday, when I'll be reminded again how many 10-year-olds are smarter than me ..... Countdown 15 days 'til Justify goes for the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes. Break a leg! No, wait. That's just for actors. Sorry ..... Are Harry and Meghan still married? ..... ESPN's third annual World Fame 100 came out, listing the globe's most famous athletes. They lost me at the ping-pong player. I wish were kidding.

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': YELICH OVERTAKES STANTONThroughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog. The latest:

Player, Team                                  OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .838   42  167   30  51   23   8-2-5      .305

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .800   50 195  34  48   28  10-1-11      .246

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .651   46 189  19  50   23   6-0-3      .265

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .474   50  177  11  28   17    2-0-6     .158

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

For our more recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

May 21, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See the surprise at No. 1 and what else falls where; plus links to latest columns, 4-Man Outfield (updated), The List (NBA Game 7s) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Chris1) It's MONDAY, MAY 21. Happy birthday on Monday to Christopher (pictured), a.k.a. Fat Chris, Fast Chris, Stats & Info and more. Love you, kid! #FirstBorninIt 2) Astonish and thrill the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Their reaction is sure to be: "Wait. Greg Cote wrote a BOOK!?" Click on Amazon to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Farewell Jim Morris, solving Jeter's problem, NBA playoffs chasing history, The List (longest-serving coaches), your verdict on legalized sports betting & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns: Jeter's Marlins, Jim Morris' farewell, NBA playoffs, more: A Solution To Jeter's ImpatienceHeading For Home: An Ode to Jim MorrisNBA Rolling A Pair of 7sAlso: Supremes Got It Right On Sports BettingConfessions of a Lifelong DolfanAdam Gase Places His Bets and Crossing the Line On American Sports' Pandering For Foreign Money.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (MAY 20): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. UM BASEBALL: ACCs next as Morris waves goodbye to home fans: Hurricanes beat Boston College twice before a Saturday rainout in coach Jim Morris' final homestand before retiring after 25 seasons. UM isn't done yet, though. The Canes (27-25) are headed to the ACC Tournament in Durham, N.C., facing Notre Dame Tuesday and then Clemson Thursday. Canes were 2-1 vs. both schools this season. Miami needs a big performance in ACCs for a shot at an NCAA Tournament invite. Morris would end it all back in Omaha if sentiment meant anything. If only...

2. NBA: They're alive! LeBron, Steph lift Cavs, Warriors: Cleveland within 2-1 of Boston in East finals after Saturday's 116-86 LeBron James-fueled win at The Land. Then Golden State made it 2-1 in the West over Houston on Sunday led by Steph Curry. Still thinking my prediction of the NBA's first two 7-game conference finals since 1979 is looking solid. (Um, unless the Warriors keep looking like they did Sunday).

3. GAMBLING: Supreme Court OKs spread of legal sports betting: For Las Vegas and Nevada, the game of monopoly is ending. Soon any state that wishes to may have legalized sports betting, thanks to a landmark Supreme Court ruling this week. Most everybody seems happy with the notable exception of your bookie Vinny Down at the Bar and others to whom taking illicit bets under the table had become a lucrative cottage industry. Sorry, Vin.

4. DOLPHINS: Week offers first full glance at 2018 team: Miami's OTA practices this Tuesday through Thursday will offer a first look at the Dolphins' full 2018 squad as veterans take the field with first-year guys including recent draftees. All eyes will be on quarterback Ryan Tannehill as he returns gingerly from last summer's knee injury that shelved him all season. Translated: Any defender who forgets and accidentally tackles Tannehill will be pilloried.

5. MARLINS: Jeter: "I'm not a patient man": Fire-Sale Fish are 17-29 after giving up six runs in bottom of ninth to wrap up Braves series yesterday and now visit Mets for three in a six-game road trip. Meantime boss Derek Jeter says he is impatient to win. OK, do something about it, chief. Spend money to augment your ground-up business model.

6. NHL: Vegas in Finals, Tampa Bay close: Vegas won again Sunday to eliminated Winnipeg 4-1 in the West and reach the Stanley Cup Finals as an expansion team. Tampa Bay Lightning is up 3-2 over Washington in the East finals after a third straight series win Saturday night, and tries to clinch today. Looming: One of the most nontraditional Stanley Cup Finals on record.

7. HORSE RACING: Justify wins Preakness: Kentucky Derby winner Justify predictably was a clear betting favorite for this coming Saturday's 143rd Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, the second leg of the thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, and won as expected, though barely. Triple Crown, anyone? Other top contenders Saturday included Good Magic and Greg's Lobos. OK I made up that last one.

8. SOCCER: Prep on for Real Madrid, Liverpool: A Spanish giant and an iconic English club prepare to go at it this coming Saturday for the UEFA Champions League title in Kiev, Ukraine. No word yet whether Vladimir Putin and Russia will attempt to exert influence and fix the result of the election soccer match.

9. TENNIS: Nadal, Serena center-stage as French Open nears: Year's second tennis major opens next Sunday at Roland-Garros in Paris, with Rafael Nadal the clear men's betting favorite and Simona Halep out front of a bunched women's field. Serena Williams, on the comeback from maternity leave and childbirth, is among top five women's faves. You get the feeling Serena might still be playing when her newborn daughter starts dominating in juniors.

10. ROYALTY: Harry and Meghan tie the royal knot: Princess Harry and Meghan Markle wed Saturday in a Royal Wedding that enthralled Great Britain and much of the world, according to my wife, who was glued to the ceremony and pomp. First offspring due date: Nine months from last night.

Missing the HB10 cut: The men's soccer World Cup in Russia is now less than one month away. Vladimir Putin has already decided who'll join Russia in the final, but he isn't saying ..... CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats signed Johnny Manziel. The latest indication Colin Kaepernick may never play again ..... Shaquille O'Neal is selling his Orlando-area mansion for $28 million. One drawback: When you live there, you start mumbling so softly nobody can hear or understand you ..... The Cleveland Browns are on Hard Knocks. Wait, haven't they been for like 30 years? ..... Chuck Liddell is making an MMA comeback. And we care why? ..... UCF coach Scott Frost and Nick Saban keep jabbing each other over UCF's national-champion claims. Man, I hate to agree with Saban! ..... Phoenix Suns win NBA draft lottery and No. 1 pick. Wait. They had worst record. Isn't that the way it's supposed to work? ..... Answer: Dallas man, 25, arrested for impersonating 17-year-old to join high-school basketball team and relive his glory days. Question: What's a new defintion for 'pathetic'?

4manof'THE FOUR-MAN OUTFIELD': BRINSON HITS SLAM BUT STILL LAGSThroughout the MLB season -- just for fun -- I'm comparing and updating the ongoing performances of the three Marlins outfield starters traded away during the offseason and current Marlins center fielder Lewis Brinson, the best prospect to arrive in the deals. Unfair to compare three established stars with a rookie? Boo hoo. Who said life was fair! Plus, remember: Just for fun! We base our rankings on OPS (on-base plus slugging). The updated 4-Man Outfield appears every Sunday and Monday in the blog. The latest:

Player, Team                                  OPS     G   AB   R   H   BI   D-T-HR    AVG. 

1. Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees    .872   44 171  32  45   27  10-1-11      .263

2. Christian Yelich, Brewers       .809   35  138   22  40   19   6-1-5      .290

3. Marcell Ozuna, Cardinals        .591   41 171  15  40   21   5-0-3      .234

4. Lewis Brinson, Marlins            .510   44  155  11  26   17    2-0-6     .168

THE LIST: NBA CONFERENCE-FINAL GAME 7S: Here are the five most recent full 4-3 series in each conference final, with result and series leading scorer:

Eastern Conference

Year    Result                                           Leading scorer

2013   Miami def. Indiana                         LeBron James (MIA), 29.0      

2012   Miami def. Boston                          LeBron James (MIA), 33.6

2005   Detroit def. Miami                         Dwyane Wade (MIA), 25.8

2001   Philadelphia def. Milwaukee          Allen Iverson (PHI), 30.5 

1998   Chicago def. Indiana                      Michael Jordan (CHI), 31.7

Western Conference

Year    Result                                          Leading scorer

2016   Golden State def. Oklahoma City   Kevin Durant (OKC), 30.0

2002   L.A. Lakers def. Sacramento          Shaquille O'Neal (LAL), 30.3

2000   L.A. Lakers def. Portland               Shaquille O'Neal (LAL), 25.9

1996   Seattle def. Utah                           Karl Malone (UTA), 27.0

1993   Phoenix def. Seattle                      Charles Barkley (PHO), 25.6

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNSThe Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest ranked me the No. 5 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

For all of our more recent columns, browse MiamiHerald/GregCote.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

April 02, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): See the new No. 1 and what else lands where; plus NCAA Final Two and my bracket, your verdict on Marlins expectations (ouch), me in APSE column-writing, Miley Cyrus spanked by Easter Bunny & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Easter1) It's MONDAY, APRIL 2. Welcome, April. Hope all you Christians had a Happy Easter! 2) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins Opening Day expectations poll & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

APSE contest: We finished in Top 5: The Associated Press Sports Editors annual writing contest that had placed me in the top 10 for national columnists this month in the major-outlet category revealed the exact order on Friday and I ended up No. 5. Congrats to the winner, Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star. And thanks to APSE. I'm pleased by the top-five recognition. (A list of our nominated columns that earned that honor may be found below).

Latest columns: Marlins' Opening Day, NCAA Final Four, Dolphins, Wayne Huizenga: On baseball Opening Day: Marlins' Ballpark Experience Only Missing One Thing and Marlins 2018: Accentuating The Positives (Sort Of)  /  On NCAA Final Four: Centenarian vs. Nonagenarian and Larranaga On Being Cinderella  /  On Fins: Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason  /  And on passing of South Florida sports and civic giant: Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. MARCH MADNESS: It's Villanova-Michigan for NCAA men's title: 'Nova crushed Kansas while Michigan ended the dream of Loyola-Cinderella and Sister Jean in Saturday's Final Four, setting up a heavyweight championship match tonight that finds Villanova the biggest title-game favorite since 2010. On the women's side, Notre Dame beat Mississippi State for the crown Sunday as 'Anybody But UConn' prayers were answered.

2. MARLINS: MLB underway as Jeter presents his Fire-Sale Fish: Marlins finished a credible 2-2 vs. Cubs in season-opening series now welcome Red Sox to town for a pair. Marlins gave up a home run on the very first pitch of the season, while Giancarlo Stanton was homering on his very first swing as a Yankee. Poetic justice? Meantime "Marlins Man" is shopping himself to other teams, as if anybody on the face of the Earth gives a s--- other than Marlins Man.

3. TENNIS: Championship Weekend as Miami Open leaves Key Biscayne: John Isner beat Alexander Zverev for the men's title Sunday one day after Fort Lauderdale's Sloane Stephens defeated Jelena Ostapenko, completing the first U.S. sweep of the event since 2004. It was a star-shy, low-watt weekend to end the tournament's long history on Key Biscayne before next year's move to Hard Rock Stadium. The crowd jeered during Saturday's post-match ceremony when tourney director James Blake mentioned the move. Good.

4. PANTHERS: Playoffs now seem a longshot for Cats: There is a phrase for the Panthers' playoff hopes now: Thin ice. An ill-timed third straight loss on Saturday has Florida now seven points off playoff pace with two games in hand, a lot of ground to make up with only five games to play starting Monday here vs. Carolina. Even a strong finish won't be enough unless 8th place New Jersey ends in a tailspin.

5. HEAT: Whiteside gripes as Miami waits to clinch: Hassan Whiteside went petty after Saturday's home OT loss to Brooklyn, calling it "bulls---" that he was benched when Nets went small. Miami now sits in 7th place (via a tiebreaker) and still needs one more win or a Detroit loss to clinch playoff spot. They'll make it, but the idea, with five games left, is to stay above 8th to avoid top-seed Toronto in the first round. Aside to Hassan: As your team fights down the stretch, not a great time to make it all about you, big fella.

6. GOLF: All eyes on Tiger as Masters nears: The year's first golf major -- The Masters at Augusta -- begins this Thursday, and it will be the first major first step to gauge Tiger Woods' comeback and return to full health. "I got a second chance on life," Tiger said this week. "I am a walking miracle." Woods has won the Masters four times but not since 2005. A fifth would send weekend TV through the roof, were there roofs over golf courses.  

7. HORSE RACING: Audible wins the Florida Derby: Audible won the Florida Derby on Saturday at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, assuring he'll be among favorites in the May 5 Kentucky Derby. Audible will take a four-race winning streak into Triple Crown season, and the previous two Florida Derby winners (Always Dreaming in 2017 and Nyquist in '16) have gone on to win at Churchill Downs. No pressure anything, Audible!

8. DOLPHINS: Let the NFL Draft countdown begin!: April now, draft month, 24 days 'til the first round. Mel Kiper's latest mock draft for ESPN has the Big Four quarterbacks going 1-2-3-5 and then also 15th (Lamar Jackson). Alas, Kiper has the Dolphins, picking No. 11, taking Florida State safety Derwin James. Pfffft

9. SOCCER: Champions League quarterfinals on deck: The UEFA Champions League quarterfinals are April 3-11. The first of eight matches are Tuesday with Sevilla vs. Bayern and Juventus vs. Real Madrid. No middle ground. You are either excited, or could not possibly care less.

10. HURRICANES: Football spring practice at midpoint: Mark Richt's Canes are halfway though spring practice, with the Spring Game coming up April 14. UM football gets the nod because, unfortunately, Jim Morris' baseball Canes continue to slog around at 12-15 after being swept on Sunday at Georgia Tech.

Missing the HB10 cut: The Angels' two-way star Shohei Ohtani on Sunday became the first player since Babe Ruth in 1919 to start as a non-pitcher on Opening Day and then start as a pitcher within his team's first 10 games. Talk about a showoff! ..... Answer: I just saw that the UM men's tennis team is ranked 46th in the nation. Question: Do you think maybe they 're ranking too many teams? ..... NFL league meetings ended in Orlando with an apparent agreement on what constitutes a catch. Progress! ..... Ex-NBA stars Ray Allen, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Grant Hill head the 2018 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class. Inductees also include Maurice Cheeks. No, seriously.

Ncaaff DickvitaleNCAA BRACKET UPDATE: LET'S GO VILLANOVA!: We're updating you on how our bracket is faring in the invitation-only LeBatard & Friends pool at ESPN.com. There are 131 entries, and I stand in 19th place entering Monday night's championship game in San Antonio:

Final Four -- After a five-day break the Madness crescendo with the Final Four on Saturday: No. 3 Michigan rallying to beat No. 11 Loyola-Cinderella and then No. 1 Villanova crushing No. 1 Kansas. I had no teams in the first game and both in the second, with Villanova winning it all. Hoping a 'Nova win Monday can get me in the pool's final top 10 or close to it.

Elite Eight -- Last Sunday as the Final Four was set I had the two No. 1 seeds still in play and both winning, and Villanova and Kansas both came through for me. Alas I didn't have a bracket dog in the hunt in either of Saturday's games as Michigan ousted Florida State and No. 11 Loyola-Cinderella and Sister Jean kept the dream alive by beating Kansas State. 

[See earlier blogposts for our results preceding the Elite Eight round]

JeterPOLL RESULTS: YOUR OUTLOOK FOR MARLINS? NOT PRETTY: We asked in a blog poll this week, "What is the most likely/reasonable expectation for the 2018 Miami Marlins?" and gave you six choices. The results: 38.3 percent said 59-or-fewer wins; 27.5% said 60-64 wins; 15.8% said 65-69 wins; 10.8% said 70-74 wins; 4.2% said 80-plus wins; and 3.3% said 75-79 wins. That's 81.7% who don't see Miami reaching 70 wins. Ouch. In a separate Twitter poll, we you what would end up as the bigger number: Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge's combined home runs for the Yankees? Or Marlins season losses? More than 2,000 voted, and it was 56% for Marlins losses as the larger number. Ouch II.

Mileybunny"DEAR GREG...": "...Your blog's OK, but would be much better if occasionally you would show a picture of Miley Cyrus being spanked by the Easter Bunny. I feel that would be especially appropriate now, with Easter coming up on Sunday. Thank you." Dear Reader: That's a lot to ask, but I'll see what I can do. (Click on image to see enlarged version. Imagine. You're a professional mall Easter Bunny guy ready for his annual weekend posing with 5-year-olds, and a rep for Miley Cyrus calls to invite you to this photo shoot...)

OUR APSE CONTEST-HONORED COLUMNS: The five 2017 pieces that earned us a Top 10 national column-writing honor from the Associated Press Sports Editors: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation / Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

March 26, 2018

Latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated): A surprise at No. 1 (maybe) and see what else falls where; plus our NCAA bracket update (ugh), columns on Dolphins/Frank Gore and Wayne Huizenga & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Neveragain1) It's MONDAY, MARCH 26. So, so proud of the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High whose anger and tears in the wake of last month's mass shooting led to Saturday's March For Our Lives that drew hundreds of thousands to Washington, D.C. and millions to rallies nationwide. The movement to ban assault weapons has only just begun. 2) Happy 71st birthday on Sunday to a philanthropic giant and a man who has been such a vital part of my life's soundtrack: Elton John. 3) Surprise and delight the Dolfans in your life with our 'Fins At 50' book. Click on Amazon or Barnes & Noble to check it out. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): R.I.P. Wayne Huizenga, our NCAA bracket update, your Who's-Next verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our latest column: The feel-good and the bad of Dolphins signing Frank Gore: It strikes all the right emotional chords, but it also is in keeping with a curious, troubling offseason for the Dolphins. To read our newest column, click Gore Continues Dolphins' Strange Offseason. (By the way, we had a snarky little Twitter poll inviting your reaction to last week's Fins signing of Gore and QB Brock Osweiler. More than 3,000 voted. The result was 26 percent voting "Super Bowl!" and 74% voting "Well, um, uh...") 

Other most recent columns: On Wayne Huizenga, Serena Williams, Canes QBs: A South Florida sports and civic giant dies. Click Wayne Huizenga: A Legacy Indelible / Serena returns from maternity leave in her home tournament and is quickly ousted by 20-year-old phenom who grew up idolizing her. Click Serena Fighting Her Career Sunset. And She Has Company / And, can Malik Rosier hold onto Hurricanes' quarterback job? Click Canes QB Battle One Of Strength, Not Desperation

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hot1. MARLINS: It's Opening Week for Fire-Sale Fish and MLB: Winding down a mildly encouraging spring training, by which I mean they weren't awful, the decimated Marlins are three days from Opening Day this Thursday afternoon here vs. the Cubs. The big question: Will new boss Derek Jeter be a part of pregame ceremonies and risk being booed after trading away Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon in a profit-first, baseball-second salary dump?

2. MARCH MADNESS: NCAA Tournament has its Final Four: It'll be No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 1 Kansas and No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 11 seed Loyola-Cinderella in the men's Final Four this Saturday after a five-day break. That's three superpowers and one reminder why we love March Madness so much.

3. WAYNE HUIZENGA: Influential sports owner dies at 80: The man who founded the Miami Marlins and Florida Panthers and rescued the Miami Dolphins from financial calamity -- once owning all three teams concurrently -- died on Thursday. Huizenga was a giant in business and philanthropy and a major figure on the South Florida sports landscape in 1993-2008. R.I.P., good sir.

4. DOLPHINS: Curious offseason continues with Gore, Osweiler: The Dolphins' offseason is getting "curiouser and curiouser," as Lewis Carroll's Alice might say. Last week the team signed former Hurricanes star Frank Gore and then quarterback Brock Osweiler, which might not be too bad except that one is a soon-to-be 35-year-old running back and the other is Brock Osweiler. 

5. MARCH FOR OUR LIVES: Parkland tragedy spawns massive rally: No, this has nothing to do with sports. It is much more important than that. Close to a million demonstrators against gun violence and for gun control were drawn to D.C. Saturday by last month's Parkland tragedy and the student leaders from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. I've seldom been prouder to be American. The best part? Didn't feel like a culmination. Felt like a beginning.

6. PANTHERS: Cats' win as playoff chase enters crunch time: Florida beat Arizona 4-2 led by Vincent Trocheck's two goals Saturday but remains three points off playoff pace with two games in hand. It's crunch time with nine games left, starting now with four straight on the road. Cats have been 19-7 since Jan. 30 but must close strong or the second-half rally will be for naught.

7. HEAT: Miami tumbles to 8th, awaits LeBron: Playoff-bound Heat now sit in 8th place in East after last night's OT loss at Indiana as the NBA regular season wanes. Now it's four straight home games starting Tuesday with a visit by LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers. Is LeBron back in Miami still a big thing? We'll likely see him in the playoffs, too -- if Miami can somehow inch up to the 6th seed. 

8. TENNIS: Crazy first week as Miami Open hits midpoint: No. 1 seeds Roger Federer and Simona Halep both were eliminated, and Serena Williams suffered a rare first-round ouster as the Miami Open turned quickly into a wide-open affair. Oh, and Caroline Wozniacki claimed she was verbally abused by the crowd. The tournament headed to Hard Rock Stadium next year isn't leaving Key Biscayne quietly ... or predictably.

9. HORSE RACING: Five days 'til Florida Derby at Gulfstream: Promises Fulfilled and Audible are among favorites in this coming Saturday's 67th running of the Florida Derby at Gulfstream. The next-to-last day of the track's Championship Meet will star a major Kentucky Derby prep race that will send one horse off to the Kentucky Derby with a tailwind.

10. SOCCER: Peru beats Croatia in Miami friendly: Holy Nene Cubillas! Peru is back in the World Cup for the first time in 36 years, and looked ready Friday in beating Croatia 2-0 in a Miami friendly that drew 46,893 to The Rock. Both teams are in the 32-nation field for the summer World Cup in Russia. Alas, the U.S. is not, unless Trump can work something out with his pal Putin.

Missing the HB10 cut: Hurricanes spring football practice continues. Would you wake me in September when they start keeping score again? ..... Canes baseball is back up to .500 and goes for the sweep over No. 24 Virginia today. Just when I'm about to write off the season, UM says, "Wait a sec!" ..... Love that another spring football league is starting up one year ahead of Vince McMahon's planned XFL reboot. I'd put the over/under on either league succeeding at 1.5 seasons ..... The NFL winter meetings start Sunday in Orlando. This is where a bunch of rich guys get together, wring hands and do very little. It's a little like politics, in that way ..... UConn's dominance in women's basketball? Bor-ring! ..... By the way anybody know if the NIT tournament has ended? Or started?

Bracket VitaleNCAA BRACKET UPDATE: A BIG SUNDAY LIFTS US: We're updating you daily on how our bracket is faring in the invitation-only LeBatard & Friends pool at ESPN.com. There are 131 entries, and I stand tied for 24th entering the Final Four (up from 51st) after a perfect Sunday:

Day 9 / Final Four -- After a five-day break the Madness will crescendo with the Final Four on Saturday in San Antonio: No. 11 Loyola-Chicago vs. No. 3 Michigan, and No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 1 Villanova. I have 'Nova winning it all.

Day 8 / Elite Eight -- Sunday as the Final Four was set I had the two No. 1 seeds still in play and both winning, and Villanova and Kansas both came through for me. 

Day 7 / Elite Eight -- I didn't have a bracket dog in the hunt in either of Saturday's games as Michigan ousted Florida State and No. 11 Loyola-Cinderella and Sister Jean kept the dream alive by beating Kansas State. 

[See previous blogposts for daily results preceding the Elite Eight round]

OUR APSE CONTEST-WINNING COLUMNS: The five 2017 pieces that earned us a Top 10 national column-writing honor from the Associated Press Sports Editors: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing  /  Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose  /  NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering  /  What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer  / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

Select additional columns: Brutal Honesty On the State Of the Dolphins Don't Shut Up, Get Louder / Top 25 Miami Sports Figures For 2018 / Tiger Still Best Thing In Golf, But Reasons Why Have Changed / Jeter's Shameful Decimation Of Marlins Overshadows Season / Our two on the Parkland tragedy: MSD On Their Jerseys, A Community In Their Hearts and Sports Mourns. We All Mourn, Then Wait For The Next Tragedy While Leaders Do Nothing / Our Dwyane Wade homecoming trilogy: Only 3 Points, But He Owned The NightHeat Have Big Plans For Wade 2.0 and Welcome Home, D.Wade / Also: Richt Building Something Big & Something To LastDear Canton: Call Zach. Farewell, RubinBeckham's Dream Becomes A TeamWhen Victims Seize The PowerThe Godfather SpeaksRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Thank You, Edwin Pope.

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Twitter @gregcote